Wimberly

Finding A Cohabitation Record

Last month over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended the 45th annual reunion of my McNair family in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. I was honored to be asked to speak to the family during the family church service on that Sunday.  It was such a great experience! I put together a presentation to distribute to family.

As I was preparing, I did additional clean-up on my family tree. Now, over the past several months, I’ve been adding info to FamilySearch Family Tree in my goal to ensure my research lives beyond me. Well, I was so pleased the week prior to the reunion to see an FamilySearch alert for my ancestor, Mariah Wimberly, in a collection of North Carolina marriage records.

So, I click to see the image and lo and behold, her cohabitation record to Rufus Tannahill pops up! I’d known about the existence of the cohabitation record for many years but had not seen the actual image.  In 1995, Dr. Barnetta McGhee White published a 3-volume index of the extant cohabitation records from across the state, and that is where I originally learned of the entry.  But, to actually see the record and be able to read it in it’s entirety is amazing!

It reads: “Before me, E.D. MacNair, Justice of the Peace for said county this 24th day of April AD 1866 appears Rufus Tannahill and Mariah Wimberly the said Rufus and Mariah having been lately slaves but now emancipating and acknowledge that they cohabitate together as man and wife and that such cohabitation commenced on the 11th day of Dec AD, 1859 given under my hand this day and year above written.” — E.D. MacNair (JP)

Rufus’ name in this record is Tannahill, but he would later change it to McNair. The Justice of the Peace is Edmund Duncan McNair Jr. and I suspect his father to have been Rufus’ slaveholder. This is a great record to have found indeed!  If you’re interested in searching for cohabitation records, they are part of the North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979 collection at FamilySearch.

45th Annual McNair Family Reunion

Each Memorial Day Weekend my maternal grandmother’s family comes together for the McNair Family Reunion in Plymouth, North Carolina.  This year, is the 45th year and I’m so pleased to be going again! My first time going was last year. Initially, I’d planned to do a whole series of blog posts about the trip, but that didn’t happen :-)

This year, I’m especially excited because the Reunion Committee has asked me to speak and share the family history! So, I’ve put together a handout to share with everyone and on Sunday morning I’ll give an overview of the family tree and information I’ve gathered in my research. As I was working on the handout, I created a graphic to illustrate the children of the couple from which we are all descendedRufus and Mariah (Wimberly) McNair

I’m sharing this picture on our Family Facebook group and am going to try and tag as many of the family as we can to the child that is their ancestor.

It’s going to be a great weekend and I am looking forward to seeing family again. Happy Memorial Day!

Visiting Dred Wimberly

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


It was Saturday, May 24th and I was on my way to Plymouth for the family reunion. I was not only looking forward to being there, but also to the drive. The highway I took bypasses through several towns I wanted to see. My first stop was to go to Rocky Mount. Why Rocky Mount you ask?

My 3rd – great grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair, had a brother named Dred and there is a NC historical marker for him. Dred served on the NC Senate in the late 19th century. Quite an accomplishment for a black person at that time!  It is my understanding that he had some prominence in the community so the marker was erected as a tribute. But not only is there a marker, but his house also stands. So, after all the research and reading I’ve done about him, I wanted to find it so that I could see it in person.

And find it I did. The house is located on Raleigh Blvd and Wake St, directly across the street from Pineview Cemetery.

There is no one living in the house but I saw signs that it is likely being renovated. I walked around back to see the backyard and nearly had a heart attack when two dogs got up from their resting spot and started barking at me! But they didn’t move from their location and they weren’t chained so I figured they just didn’t appreciate me traipsing through their territory.

This stop was quick but I am very glad I did take the time. My stop does raise a few more questions for me though – the primary one being to find out who owns the home? Do any of Dred’s descendants? I need to try and find out. Looks like I have some deed research to follow-up on!

40th Annual McNair Family Reunion

This Memorial Day Weekend, as it’s traditionally held, my McNair branch of the family is having their 40th Annual Reunion.  Started in 1972, I am amazed and proud of its longevity!  I’ve not yet been to one, but my maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson, used to go often and has shared with me details about her family that helped inspire my love of genealogy.

In preparation for the reunion this year, at the request of a cousin, I compiled a booklet of the family tree information I currently have for the McNair family. The reunion is for the descendants of Rufus & Mariah McNair, so the booklet lists each of the branches of their children (10 who are known to have offspring).

This is the front cover I made.

For now, the booklet is purely a list of names. Next year, I hope to be able to include pictures of at least the generation of the grandkids of Rufus & Mariah. I am honored to have met at least one – my 2nd great-aunt Martha. Aunt Martha is doing well and is attending the reunion herself this year! 

I am looking forward to the feedback from this weekend and the chance to further update and make our family tree even better.  To my McNair Family – enjoy and if you aren’t going, please consider sharing what you know so that we can preserve these memories for our own descendants. 

Our McNair Family History is on the Books

A few weeks ago I had a chance to see in person the book,  Edgecombe County Heritage, North Carolina, 1735-2009.  I was thrilled to see in print my contribution to the book that I submitted in 2008.

I contributed an article on my McNair ancestry, going back to my 3rd-great grandfather Rufus Tannahill McNair and his wife, Mariah Wimberly McNair.
I did not photocopy the pages; instead I took a digital picture, but I do want to go back later and get the physical copy.

I am very glad I contributed this information for 50, 75, 100 years from now, hopefully additional descendants will come across the information I share.  I do see that the publishing company messed up my 4th great-grandfather’s name the first time it is mentioned (Allen Wimberly), but as I mention him again a couple of lines down, hopefully a smart reader will figure it out.  I also included a picture of my great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln McNair, with my submission and several references.

I am ecstatic! :-)  And though I didn’t submit this one, there is also a brief bio of Mariah’s brother, Dred Wimberly in the book too.

At least I know that some of my research will continue on in print format.

Tombstone Tuedsay: Dred & Ellen Wimberly

Back in June, through the kind assistance of a researcher in North Carolina, I was sent photos of the headstones and home of the brother of one of my 3rd great-grandmothers.  This is Dred Wimberly and his wife Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly. They are buried in Unity Cemetery in Rocky Mount, NC and their home is in Tarboro.

Dred was born a slave to James S. Battle (and hence my 3g-grandma was too) and because of his relationship to Kemp Battle, his later owner, after the Civil War Dred became a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.   Having these pictures is priceless to me.

Headstone of Dred Wimberly (1868-1937)

Headstone of Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly - d. 1945

Home of Dred Wimberly - Raleigh St, Tarboro, NC

Connections Like Wildfire

Just a quick post this time, but I’ve had so many connections come out the woodwork this week from sharing family tree information online it’s been crazy.

  • got an email from a possible cousin based on her husband’s lineage from former slaves on the Kemp P. Battle plantation in Edgecombe County, NC where my 4th great-grandparents were also slaves.  There may be a blood connection between the slaves, but we aren’t sure and so are beginning to work collaboratively on trying to figure it all out.  She found me based on a blog post I did after Robyn sent me some labor contract information
  • was contacted through Ancestry from a cousin who is descended from a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather,  Edward Kilpatrick of Craven County, NC.   I did not have any additional information for his sister Caroline, but through the cousin, I learned that she married a gentleman named Robert White and they moved to Pitt county.  More information to add to the family tree!
  • got a follow-up email related to my stepmother’s Frye ancestry.  We think we have linked her tentative 3rd great-grandfather Leonard Frye to a very large Frye family w/ ancestry going way back. more to do on that line…
  • through my genealogy site was contacted by a Koonce descendant. No relation to me, but since I collect Koonces I have part of his family tree on the site.  I will begin adding his branch to the tree later this weekend.  He is descended from Phillip H. Koonce of Shelby County, Texas.
  • was contacted by someone interested in the spouse of someone who’s tree I’ve been working on as the Picot family associated with Washington County, NC – one of my GenWeb projects.
  • my cousin emailed me tonight to call my great-uncle.  He is a brother of my maternal grandmother and is very interested in helping to figure out the origins of his Lawhorn surname.  I called him and he saw an obituary in a nearby city paper of a woman whose last name was Lawhorne and informed me as a possible lead.  He said his father told him that his father came from Georgia, but we are still working on that. It was great to talk to him too!

All of this has been in the last 4 days.  I have hardly had time to follow-up on all of these leads, but I hope to squeeze in some time this weekend.  I’ve got major projects due for school over the next couple of weeks and have a couple of activities planned on the weekend, so we’ll see.  I haven’t even watched the tonight or last week’s episodes of Faces of America yet!

UNC Yearbooks Available Online 1894-1960

As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I feel urged to share this news as widely as possible – the UNC Libraries are adding old issues of the school yearbook, the Yackety Yack (formerly the Hellenian), online to the Internet Archive.   I find some irony in the fact that I graduated from there, seeing as how the Kemp P. Battle, former University president from 1876-1891 was my ancestors’ slaveowner, but oh well.  (Kalonji tells me I should seek retribution :-)).

For anyone with persons of interest who went there during this time span it is definitely worth checking out! Read more on the NCGenWeb Blog.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – My 16

I’m going to take Randy up on his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for August 8, 2009.  Not because of the intent to document my ethnicity for that is very easy – to the best of my current knowledge, all (with the exception of 1) of my ancestors as far as I can trace have been black and former slaves. But for the intent of serving as a great way for others to find me should we have any shared ancestry I think this is an excellent idea!

My 16 great-great grandparents are:

1.  Unknown? – I am not exactly sure who the father is of my great-grandfather Barfield Koonce. No name is given on his death certificate, and I’ve only found Barfield enumerated with grandparents. Maybe if we had the 1890 census I’d know more, but this is one of my genealogy brickwalls.  Whomever it is, he would have likely been born around the 1850s in Craven County, North Carolina.

2.  Caroline KOONCE was the daughter of James & Isaih Koonce. Caroline was born around January 1851 in either Jones or Craven County, North Carolina.  After having my great-grandfather and at least one other child, Caroline married George C. West on March 18, 1891 in Craven County.  She died August 12, 1928 in Dover, Craven County, North Carolina.

3.  Thomas HOLLOWAY Jr. was born around 1853 in Wayne County, North Carolina.  He was the son of Thomas & Phillis HOLLOWAY.  He married Polly Hood around the late 1870s.  The family lived in Wayne County in 1880 and I do not know when he died.

4. Polly HOOD was born abt. 1860 likely in Wayne County, North Carolina.  Her mother’s name was Caroline.  Polly died in Ft. Barnwell, Craven County July 16, 1916.

5. Samuel Becton LAWHORN was born abt. 1871 in Craven County, North Carolina.  He was the son of Valentine & Harriett Lawhorn.  He married Cora Cox on May 28, 1899 and according to the Lawhorn Family Bible died April 11, 1917.

6. Cora COX was born March 3, 1876 in Craven County, North Carolina.  She was the daughter of Robert & Amanda Cox. Cora’s first husband was Samuel Becton Lawhorn whom she married May 28, 1899. After his death, she married neighbor Willie Morton on December 23, 1924.  She died November 26, 1949 in Craven County, North Carolina.

7. Randolph KILPATRICK was born September 2, 1885 in Craven County, North Carolina.  He was the son of Edward Kilpatrick & Violetta DONALD.  In 1905 Randolph married Mary Maggie HARVEY.  He died September 24, 1966 in Craven County, North Carolina.   (His mother Violetta is reported by family to be half Native American, and her grandson told me a few years ago that she had hair all the way down her back, a trait that was carried down to all of her daughters.  He remembers her from when she lived with him and his family and she died when he was about 15 years old.  So, this would make Randolph 25% Native American.)

8. Mary Maggie HARVEY was born August 4, 1889.  Her exact parentage is not exactly known, but according to family information, she was the daughter of two individuals that were both married to other people.  Her father was Clayton HARVEY and her mother is said to be a DAWSON, but I’m unsure if that was her mother’s married name or maiden name.  Mary died August 21, 1940, likely in Craven County, North Carolina.

9. William ROBINSON was born in September of 1830, likely in Columbus County, North Carolina.  He may have been the son of Bob & Hagar Robinson.  In 1855 he married Rebecca Toon. His date of death is unknown.

10.  Rebecca TOON was born in May 1841, likely in Columbus County, North Carolina. Her parentage is unknown as is her date of death.

11. John LENNON was born approximately in 1854, likely in Columbus County, North Carolina.  Another researcher has informed me that his parents were Josh & Barbary Lennon.  John married Etta Lennon March 30, 1882 in Columbus County, North Carolina.  His date of death is unknown.

12. Etta LENNON was born approximately in 1862, likely in Columbus County, North Carolina.  The current thought on her parentage is that she was the daughter of Council & Elizabeth Abigail Lennon though I am not 100% sure on this.  She married John Lennon in 1882 and married Isaac ROBINSON May 25, 1905.  Her date of death is unknown.

13. Andrew D. MCNAIR was born May 5, 1866 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. He was the son of Rufus Tannahill McNair and Mariah Wimberly.  Andrew married Gracy Bullock around 1893, then after her death, married Bennie Slade.  Andrew died February 10, 1930 in Washington County, North Carolina.

14. Gracy BULLOCK was born in March 1874 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.  She was the daughter of Lawrence & Chanie Bullock.  Gracy’s date of death is unknown, but it was prior to 1910.

15. Anthony WALKER was born in May 1850, likely in Washington County, North Carolina.  He was the son of Prince Walker & Lovey Boston.  Anthony married Martha Jane Baker on December 29, 1881.  He married Winnie Walker between 1910 & 1920.  Anthony died January 10, 1921.

16. Martha Jane BAKER was born in August 1853, likely in Washington County, North Carolina.  She was the duaghter of Daniel & Frances Baker.  Martha died between 1900-1910.

This is Why I Never Go To Bed

I knew it was a mistake to get back on the computer after I *said* I was going to bed.  But, I had to check the email and feed readers “one last time.”  Well, now it’s going to cause me to be up long enough to do this blog post, but I couldn’t wait because what I found was too exciting!

Last week I learned of a new resources, a new website of NC  Maps.  I only had an opportunity to briefly consult it, planning to investigate it more in-depth this week.  Well, a researcher today shared the link with the Edgecombe County mailing list and pointed out in her post that the maps allow you to see the locations of properties. She specifically shared the link to at 1905 map.

So, off I go to look at this map and was elated to see my two surnames of interest EXACTLY just like I figured they were — the Wimberly property right next to the McNair property, and those two properties just south of the Battle property! 

I’ve been posting with some frequency lately on my McNair, Wimberly, Battle connections and this is just too perfect.   My 3rd great-grandfather, Rufus Tannahill McNair was likely the slave of Dr. Augustus Harvey McNair.  Rufus married Mariah Wimberly, whose mother was the slave of Kemp Plummer Battle and whose father was probably the slave of Robert Diggs Wimberly.  

I knew from census records that the white McNair, Wimberley and Battle families lived in proximity, but to have this visual is wonderful! Admittedly, I’ve not delved into land records very much for my research – this type of discovery definitely picques my interest.  Thanks so much to the North Carolina State Archives, the Outer Banks History Center, and the University of NC @ Chapel Hill for this wonderful resource!   This is truly made my day. :-)